Many successful restaurants have just had a few hectic months. November and December can be unusually busy due to the holiday season. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, Thanksgiving is now the second busiest day of the year for restaurants across the country and for some eateries, Christmas has become their top performing day.
Once the holiday high passes, however, January and February can be some of the slowest times of the year. Your customers, trying to stick with New Year’s resolutions, may be more carefully watching their budgets and spending more time to the gym and less at the table. If your restaurant is stuck in a post-holiday season slump, there are strategies you can use to attract more customers:
- Be proactive. It’s hard to think about the doldrums of January when spirits are high in December, restaurants are packed with parties and reservations are in demand. It pays — literally — to be proactive. Start as early as possible to plan marketing initiatives that will keep sales brisk after the holiday season ends.
A good place to start is with the menu. The time for eggnog may have passed, but winter is just getting started. Adding some “limited time only” seasonal dishes will keep customers interested in your restaurant. Research shows that 59 percent of people are more likely to order something described as “seasonal,” so these special dishes and beverages will help fill tables and increase profits.
- Make customers want more. On a cold weekend, people aren’t motivated to change out of their comfy sweatpants, much less leave their houses. But restaurant owners can motivate customers to return in January and February. Provide coupons or special offers to customers that they can use on a return visit, and, if the deal is enticing enough, they’ll come out of hibernation. Although giving away free items or discounts may mean a loss in the short-term, consider an investment in the future: repeat customers make up more than 60 percent of the patrons at a successful restaurant.
- Reward loyalty. According to research firm Technomic, people who participate in a restaurant loyalty program will choose to visit that establishment 82 percent of the time, because they will receive points or rewards for purchases. Restaurant owners and managers can start building a database by asking people for their contact info so they can be mailed coupons or updates — including January or February specials. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to loyalty, so be sure to evaluate all the options carefully and choose one that is compatible with your point of sale system.
- Be social. Social media can help restaurant owners and managers keep people interested in their eateries after the holiday season. First, take the time to keep your social media sites updated with the latest menu changes, photos and seasonal specialties. Create excitement (for free) with frequent posts, contests and coupons. Be sure to tell customers to like or follow your restaurant on social media sites. These are easy, no cost ways to communicate quickly and directly with your target audience.
You can overcome the post-holiday sales slump with planning and creative initiatives. Even if you aren’t anticipating a January/February slowdown, the right tactics can keep your eatery from getting stuck in a rut. Spice up the menu with some seasonal offerings and give people a reason to come back. It may be grey and cold outside, but you can keep your restaurant bustling long after the holiday season ends.
For information on how the right restaurant POS technology can keep your business on the right track, contact Leebro POS.